While flipping channels late one night, I came across the highly controversial show Toddlers and Tiaras. Now, I’ve never been a follower of reality television, but as I reached for the remote to change the channel something caught my attention: the mother of one of the unfortunate girls was concocting a drink that included an unmentioned energy substance, soda, sugar and water (for dilution, of course).
My mouth unhinged and dropped as I stared in awe at the barbarism that was taking place. It was merely the beginning.
If you’re not familiar with the premise of the show, every new episode follows the brief performance of a pre-pubescent child in a local or national pageant, along with their insufferable stage mom or dad. This particular episode chronicled the “Fresh Faces” pageant.
This specific event focuses on the “natural” beauty of toddlers, their facial symmetry and personality. Because although most of them have only been alive for three or four years, they’ve already developed unique characteristics and tastes that can be accurately expressed and judged. You know, typical toddler stuff.
As I watched in amazement at the gradual theft of childhood innocence and the hypersexualized appearance of those young girls, I began to comprehend the intense levels of pressure and the ridiculous demands these children are subject to for profit.
All this is doing is systematically reinforcing the idea of women as mere porcelain dolls and objects, completely reducing their worth solely to genetics.
Pageants are a breeding ground for low self esteem, eating disorders, narcissism, the reinforcement of archaic gender roles and body standardization. This vicious circle revolves around the incessant need to continually validate oneself with the unanimous vote of a crowd, which collectively denigrates every egalitarian, feminist and social rights movement.
These types of competitions speak volumes about what society prioritizes. Talent, intelligence and ability don’t play a role in the “crowning” process. Children with different types of beauty aren’t celebrated and encouraged to participate.
Every girl must mold her physical appearance to fulfill an unattainable, absurd and objective notion of beauty, created strictly by corporations that claim to have the “solution” for a “problem” they themselves have produced.
One might argue that this abomination is the exception–an exaggeration of reality, but exaggerated or not, the root of the problem is present in TV shows, movies, magazines, even infomercials.
Yet we continue to encourage and promote these poisonous ideals while concurrently campaigning against the results of the skewed views society holds on beauty and attractiveness.
Instead of physicality, youth and attractiveness (qualities that ultimately fade), the focus should instead be on providing health, education, equality and means of sustenance to the hundreds of thousands of people denied the possibility of even a mediocre life.
Only when the common good of society is paramount will it begin to truly bask in the wonder that is the human experience.